Figures for a Darkroom Voice
Noah Eli Gordon & Joshua Marie Wilkinson
with images by Noah Saterstrom
Poetry | 5.5″x7″, 88 pp, pbk. | Oct. 2007
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In the prose poems, syntactically elusive sonnets, and haunting, haiku-like fragments of Figures for a Darkroom Voice, illuminated by the ink drawings of Noah Saterstrom, one encounters a recurring cast of logically-skewed images, inauspicious yet arresting aphorisms, and characters rendered fully bizarre in the lightest of brushstrokes. The rhetorical twisting of Noah Eli Gordon’s abstractions meld with the ominous narratives of Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s fragments, turning Wallace Steven’s notion of a supreme fiction toward a supreme friction, one where the work of these two poets is fused into a voice as singular as it is sinister. Imagine a gallery in which Cornell boxes talk back, a Maya Deren film in which the audience dissolves into projector light, a Philip Glass composition played exclusively on medieval weaponry, such are the compelling results of this collaborative work. Here, the slippage and disruptions of textually investigative work collides with the mind-expanding project of conjuring paradox, while never quite leaving linearity behind.
praise for Figures for a Darkroom Voice
These two guys tell us,
“There is nothing that summer can do to us
That we could not ourselves develop in the basement”
so we know
“the sleepwalkers enter a swimming pool
With their haggings& black dresses,”
“raising private horses”
Therefore it’s true
“What mammal wouldn’t want its own vibrant egg?”
They glitter. This book glitters.
Figures for a Darkroom Voice enacts the transformations that occur in the objects that exist in our world. For Gordon and Wilkinson, this change normally follows an eroding path—a stripping away either to the essential or to the garbage. In this way, their voice comes across not as a warning, but as an ominous knell.”
These aren’t just two guys with three names each; these are two of the poets to watch in the next generation. Gordon just won the National Poetry Series Open (judged by the legendary John Ashbery) for his book Novel Pictorial Noise, and Wilkinson won the coveted Iowa Poetry Prize for his book Lug Your Careless Body Out of the Careful Dusk. Here the two have combined voices for a frisky, lithe, verbal romp. What started as an experiment in poetics, passing a pad of paper back and forth across a cafe table, ended as one of the most interesting books of last year. Think language poetry meets Project Runway. With whimsical drawings by Noah Saterstrom, and published by the always stellar Tarpaulin Sky Press
—Powell’s (Staff Pick)
In a hyper-surreal collaboration, Noah Eli Gordon and Joshua Marie Wilkinson take the prose poem to new, wild heights…. The two poets show how simply seeing is the door to complex experience.
—Ray González, Bloomsbury Review
excerpts from Figures for a Darkroom Voice
Word for/Word | The Continental Review (Video) | New American Writing | Colorado Review | 14 Hills | 580 Split | Forklift, OH | H_NGM_N | Lungfull! | Cab/Net | The Agriculture Reader | Dislocate | The Modern Review | /nor | Sidebrow | SleepingFish | Traffic | Track & Field
about the artist & the authors
Noah Eli Gordon is the author of Novel Pictorial Noise (Harper Perennial, 2007; selected by John Ashbery for the National Poetry Series), among other books.
Noah Saterstrom has exhibited paintings, drawings, projects, and installations nationally and internationally.
Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth, among other books.